19 Nov 2011

Timmermans Lambic Doux and A La Bécasse

The beer

The house speciality, the slightly-sweetened Timmermans Lambic Doux, is, according to the menu I’m staring at, a ‘young gueuze, fresh and amber’.

It’s served to me in a ceramic jug, accompanied by a squat tumbler.

In the glass it looks almost exactly like clear, concentrated apple juice. Pure translucent burnt caramel. The only hint that it’s beer is the exceptionally thin head and occasional bubble.

After a couple of minutes, there is zero carbonation present.

It smells like apple juice too. Not even cider – actual apple juice like you’d get out of a carton.

At this point I’m wondering if my very basic French is even worse than I thought and I have, in fact, ordered apple juice.

Upon tasting, I still doubt my linguistic ability, as a sharp apple hit continues to confuse my brain.

There is, however, enough sour acidity to convince me that only a beer could deliver this range of flavours.

The bar

As with the Cantillon brewery a mile or so away, A La Bécasse seems at odds with the city it inhabits.

Brussels is full of hustle and bustle, neon lights, fast food and grime (not the music).

Stepping into A La Bécasse is like being transported into a different world.

Full of wooden beams, brass long tables and an authentic antiquity, its charm doesn’t take long to win you over.

The beer list is by no means the most extensive in Brussels, but it has enough classics on it to keep you going.

The match

I'm in Brussels on a Friday evening, ahead of the Cantillon public brewing session the following day.

A La Bécasse wasn’t necessarily on my Brussels beer hitlist, but on the advice of @caskcrusade and @CarsmileSteve I headed there as soon as I’d checked in at my hotel.

And I’m so glad I did.

The place is buzzing, but in a really welcoming, comforting way.

I find a seat and pointlessly examine the menu. I already know what I want: the house lambic and kip kap!

There’s one waiter to about fifty people, but he swiftly acknowledges my presence and swings by after a couple of minutes.

I’m repulsed by gimmicky tourist tricks and can spot them a mile off. The serving of the beer in ceramic jugs doesn’t feel forced. It just seems like the right way to do it here.

The slight spice from the kip kap actually works really well with the beer and offsets some of the sharp sweetness.

I’m not going to lie though; I don’t think this beer is exceptional by any means

It is kinda fun however, and I’m digging the atmosphere here. I’m comfortable and relaxed.

If I drank it anywhere else, I’d probably dismiss it. But here, well, it works.

The absolute definition of a great match.

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